On Paperfeet the Cat and Hoarding Books


Paperfeet the Cat Stands Proudly Among his Depleted Shelves

After twelve years in one flat, I am preparing to move in two weeks. Everyone knows that moving sucks. Though I am not an extravagant person, It’s the only time in my life that I wish I was loaded. I’d hand a few guys a wad of cash, give them instructions and two addresses, go on holiday, and just come back to a new flat all ready for me to live in.

Moving makes you realize just how much shit you have accumulated in your little hovel. This, of course, is because you are now forced to look through the backs of those cabinets, closets, mudrooms that you have gleefully avoided for so long. And so you dig out books, DVDs, mugs, clothes, old calendars, and cat figurines that you got from someone else who was moving and didn’t want to deal with it, and so now I’m standing in a room holding the cat and making a dubious look, all purse-lipped and furrow-browed, like the bad guy who realizes he’s been duped at the end of a movie in which he thought he had won. But you can’t get rid of him now; you’ve named him Paperfeet.

And if you are in your late twenties and lived on your own more than once, then you totally know what I’m saying.

The most eye-opening aspect of moving is the insight into your hoarding tendencies. When my parents moved from their last house to their current one, my mom pledged her allegiance and argued for each item we wished to throw out. She went to bat for broken lamps, three planked picture frames with cracked glass, waterlogged dentistry textbooks, and eyeless dolls. There was always a reason to keep them, to the point that you could see these arguments were being made up on the spot. And so we’d nod and agree the way you do with a guy on the bus who tells you that he has trained ants to do calculus.

I know I have a bit of my mom’s hoarding tendency in me. She’s a hoarder, but certainly not the extent that she’s going to end up explaining things to a bunch of guys in hazmat suits in her living room. She’s more the rest of us, she feels comfort in having her things around and the finality of throwing stuff away freaks her out.

I can certainly commiserate, especially now. I find that I’m coming up with arguments to keep clothes and dated appliances that I haven’t touched in a decade. And the teaching materials, too. You never know when you’re going to need that old lesson on third conditional that you did seven years ago. You just never know.

My most pressing hoard is books. I have hundreds of books. Hundreds of heavy books whose boxes will no doubt be left by friends for me to carry. You want your books, you carry them up to the third floor you old son of a bitch.

And I don’t blame them.

There are some books easily discarded. Anything in two pieces is first out, anything in German or French goes because by the time I am able to read a book in German I will be 75 years old and living in another flat. Plus, with any luck I’ll have a nurse then who can go to the store and get it for me. Any book I didn’t like or don’t want to read was next on the list. This took care of a lot, but did take a lot of soul searching. Are you really, really, really gonna read that Pushkin? Really?

I wish I could throw out the following books twice: The Historian, Wuthering Heights, The Dirty Dozen (greatest movie on Earth, shittiest book on the same), and Summerland.

So if any of you needs some books and are planning to be in Prague 4, shoot me a message and you can come by and see what I have. Otherwise, I think I’ll save up to see if I can find a couple guys who’ll move everything and then decorate my new place while I sit on a beach in Mallorca.

You cannot have Paperfeet.

  1. No comments yet.
(will not be published)